1 October 2009 04:57 PM

What Some Teachers Do To Drive Parents Mad

by Dr. Rick

I made a mistake.  Several readers pointed out that I posted a blog last week, "What Teachers Do to Drive Parents Crazy," that was out of order.  It referred to a previous blog, "What Parents Do to Drive Teachers Crazy."  Trouble is, I hadn't posted that previous blog.  You noticed the error.  Good for you.  So, this week, I'll correct the error and post the two blogs in proper order. 


Whatever their order, though, their take-home message is simple.  We adults want to see our children succeed in school and life, and most of the time, we are well-intentioned, do the right things, and our children receive the benefits of parents and teachers working together for their benefit.  Occasionally, we goof up.  Here are two blogs, today and Friday, that point up our occasional flubs.


Mea culpa, and happy reading.


Last time, I responded to a reporter’s question about ten things parents do to drive teachers crazy I was a little reluctant, remember, to focus on negative things, but I honored the request and tried to do so respectfully.


Now, in the interest of fairness, here’s a list of ten things we teachers occasionally do to drive parents crazy.  Fair’s fair.


Again, I must emphasize that not all teachers do these things, just as not all parents do the things in my last blog.  But it’s instructive, I suppose, to see human flaws and foibles and try to avoid them whenever possible.  Always trying to improve, right?


So, here they are.  Ten things some teachers do to drive parents mad.

  1. Not bothering to learn students’ names until late in the semester.  Worse, not bothering to learn about students’ special needs, interests, or talents.

  2. Not returning assignments on which students worked diligently. (I’m not talking about daily drills here, I mean major assignments.)  Just as bad, returning book reports and term papers with a letter grade on the front page and not another comment explaining the grade or suggestions for improvement.

  3. Coming to class unprepared.  This is just as bad as students’ coming to class unprepared.  Not every lesson can be an Academy Award winner, but kids can tell when we’re just winging it.  Their time is too valuable to waste.

  4. Not being in control of the class.  No one learns in a chaotic, disrespectful atmosphere.  (I’ve seen a teacher drone on while students – in the very front, no less – shelled peanuts, ate them, and left the shells on the floor.  Teacher never noticed.  True story.)

  5. Playing favorites among students.  Sometimes we can’t help having our preferences, but there’s no excuse for students being able to tell what they are.

  6. Playing favorites among subjects and lessons.  We’ve all had the teacher who looooves teaching about the Civil War or Dinosaurs or a favorite author to the exclusion of other topics.

  7. Not being competent or up-to-date in our subject matter.  We all know teachers who stay just one chapter ahead of their students, or who know their subject matter but don’t have effective teaching skills.  Or there’s the teacher who prepares one lesson plan, never alters it, and uses it once a year for thirty years.

  8. Giving too much homework or not enough.  Homework should reinforce what’s done in class today, give practice experience, or prepare students for new material introduced tomorrow.  Teachers who give busy work on skills already mastered, or – my favorite – homework as punishment should be beaten with wet noodles.

  9. Trying to be students’ “friend” rather than teacher.  Students don’t need teachers as friends.  They need friendly teachers whom they can admire, respect, emulate, and work hard to learn from.

  10. Being too strict.  The opposite of the teacher-as-friend is the one who is so inflexible, so strict as to be a martinet.  This teacher stifles discussion, discovery, and, sadly, learning.

Again, I say, most teachers care about their students’ learning, try to be fair, and stay abreast of their subject and teaching skills.  Sometimes we fall short, just as all humans do.  But the best among us, like the best among all groups, learn from our mistakes and stay true to our calling.  At least, that’s what we try to do.




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